A heated battle for the county’s highest office has resulted in more than $235,000 in spending among the presumptive top two candidates in the last two months, according to campaign finance reports.
County Executive Jan Gardner (D) spent $138,249.04 between Aug. 22 and Oct. 21 in her re-election effort, which is the most of any county candidate for elected office, according to campaign finance reports. Gardner pumped out about $48,000 in radio, TV and newspaper advertisements and approximately $77,000 for mailers.
Her Republican opponent, Delegate Kathy Afzali, spent $101,575.86 herself in an effort to unseat Gardner after one term. Afzali maintains a cash balance of slightly more than $55,000 to Gardner’s $53,931.88, though Afzali’s bankroll contains a $20,000 loan she made to herself.
The two have sparred through campaign attack ads in recent weeks. Afzali came under criticism from Gardner when the Frederick County Republican Victory Slate put out a flyer that said 60 emergency calls to the county’s 911 center went unanswered in Gardner’s term. However, no emergency calls have gone unanswered, according to Director of Emergency Management Jack Markey.
Afzali declined to comment when asked about the flyers, instead criticizing local Democrats for sending out mailers that she said contained false information about her, including claims that she has repeatedly voted against funding for local school construction.
Afzali’s campaign finance report shows she gave $6,000 to the Frederick County Republican Victory Slate as part of her spending splurge ahead of the general election. Afzali spent $60,000 on television ads and $15,000 for mailers, her campaign finance report shows.
Earl Robbins, the independent candidate for county executive, spent $5,200.43 and maintains a cash balance of $10,522.77.
A candidate for Congress who has spent record amounts of his own money in his bid for the 6th District seat in the House of Representatives has also become one of the biggest spenders in Frederick County races.
David Trone, the wine magnate who has pumped about $16 million of his own money into his run for Congress, has contributed more than $26,000 to Frederick County Democratic candidates for elected office this election cycle. Trone has contributed the maximum $6,000 to Gardner.
Trone has also contributed $5,000 to sheriff challenger Karl Bickel this election cycle. Trone’s wife has also made a $2,500 contribution to Bickel.
Bickel spent more than $17,000 in this reporting cycle, outspending and out-raising current Sheriff Chuck Jenkins. Jenkins raised and spent slightly more than $6,000. Bickel raised more than $26,000, according to his campaign finance report.
Susan Reeder Jessee, a Democratic candidate for County Council at-large, was the only candidate to spend less than $10,000 in the final two months leading up to the election. Reeder Jessee spent just $191.29 despite raising more than $9,000.
Early voting continues through Thursday, and Election Day is Nov. 6.